This Is My Manhaj

Assalaamu’alaykum warahmatullaahi wabarakaatuh,

InshaaAllah, I am a Muslim. One of the ahlus sunnah wal jama’ah. I believe in Allah ‘Azza wa Jal as the Only One worthy of worship, one who revealed the Tawrah, Zaboor, and the Injeel. I believe that Adam ‘alayhis salaam, Ibrahim ‘alayhis salaam, Musa (Moses) ‘alayhis salaam Dawuud (David) ‘alayhis salaam, Sulayman (Solomon) ‘alayhis salaam, and ‘Isa (Jesus, putting aside the controversies in the translation of Aramaic) ‘alayhis salaam, are His messengers. And I believe that Muhammad bin Abdullah salallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam is His final messenger, the one whom Allah revealed the Qur’an to.

I put the salaafus shaaleh as the next best persons after the anbiya. They are Abu Bakar ash-Shiddiq, ‘Aisha binti Abi Bakr, Umar ibn al-Khattab, Uthman ibn Affan, Ali ibn Abi Thalib, Fathima binti Muhammad, Abdullah ibn ‘Abbas, Bilal bin Rabbah, Mu’awiyah ibn Abi Sufyaan, and so many others who are too many to mention, radhiallaahu anhuma.

But what does this mean? What kind of ‘creed’ or ‘madzhab’ or ‘ideology’ do I follow? How do I see my religion? InshaaAllah these are a few pointers of how I understand my religion. I am still and will always be learning, so this may be updated throughout time.

Here goes.

Contents:

  1. Tawheed
  2. The Qur’an and Sunnah
  3. Marriage
  4. Frequently Asked Questions

=====TAWHEED=====

Allah is One in Creation (Rububiyah)

I believe that Allah is the One and Only who created and sustains his creation. All depend on Him and He depends on none. Nothing can come out of nothing, which is true both in Islam as Allah says in Surah at-Thuur, as well as in Greek philosophy of logic. When one reproduces or manufactures, usually the term ‘created’ is used. When one feeds the other, usually the term ‘sustain’ is used. However, these are socially meant to refer to utilizing what Allah has provided and even then is by permission of Allah.

Many atheists or other kafiruun are deluded. Many claim that there is no need to have a God or a religion. Such a statement implies that the existence of God and religion is subject to human necessity. The truth is that Allah exists and He has shown the rightful religion. The question is whether or not we want to accept this reality. Similar logic is used by atheists on the matter of hell and heaven. Is it good to use a concept of reward and punishment? Some criticize the concept of heaven and hell because it is not good to direct people to commit good deeds due to personal interests like this. However, the truth is that heaven and hell exist wherever you like it or not.

Allah is One in Deserving Worship (Uluhiyah)

This is a refutation towards the mushrikeen, and probably the main message of all the Messengers of Allah. We shall not worship anything other than Allah. However, sometime the problem of shirk (ascribing partners to Allah) is more subtle. It can be as obvious as worshiping a potato, it can also be in a very subtle way such as committing good deeds but as a ‘show-off’ to other people ‘mankind’. Therefore it is very essential for us to know Who to worship as well as to purify our intentions. We need to understand what ‘worship’ means in our religion, and how to do it.

Then there is this question of tawassul or using intermediaries in seeking prayers. Is this an act of shirk? Using living and pious persons as waseela is permissible, I have not found difference opinion on this. But how about making tawassul to Prophet Muhammad s.a.w. after he died? There does seem to be a difference of opinion on this matter. I incline more to follow the opinion that prohibits it, but I have hard time to believe that it is a blanket act of shirk because so many great scholars of Islam say that it is permissible. Some use Az-Zumar ayat 3 to convincingly argue that tawasul is an act of shirk, it is just too obvious to miss if this ayat is really meant to refer so.

 

Allah is One in His Names and Attributes (Asma wa Sifaat)

-Understanding the Names-

It is very important for us to understand Allah’s Names and Attributes. Rasulullah s.a.w. said that those who have memorized Allah’s Good Names (Asmaaul Husna) and lives by them will enter jannah. It is imperative that we do our best to learn them, and more than just knowing them and how they translate in our native language. We need to understand them deeper to fully understand it’s meaning. Because Ar-Rahman is not simply “The Most Merciful” (like, if that is how we translate Ar-Rahman, what is the difference with Al-Ghaffar then?) etc. There are deeper understandings of these Names and Attributes, and if we truly understand them then it would change the way we see life.

-Literalism and Metaphorism-

The Salafi and the Ash’ari scholars differ in understanding certain things attributed to Allah. When Allah says that He sits (istiwa) on The Throne, does it literally mean that He is sitting on a Throne? It is a long standing debate between the ‘Salafis’ and ‘Ash’aris’, and there are very strong arguments and great scholars on both sides.

I personally incline to follow the stance of the Salafis, as it seems closest to the proper understanding of the Salafush Shaaleh. In ayats pertaining to Allah’ attributes, I take them literal but in a way that is not similar to that of the creation. Like how Allah is Sitting on the Throne. I leave the word ‘istiwa’ as it is, because Allah chose that word. How? We dont know how exactly, but we know that it is in a way not similar to how the creation sits, and in a way that befits His Majesty. And, as Imam Malik r.a. says, to ask about it to others (to test them) is bid’ah.

Despite so, I simply cannot say that this makes the Ash’aris deviant. There are very great scholars on their side. I believe that this difference is just a small one in the very vast body of Islamic aqeedah, which should not make them break brotherhood. And, certainly, one cannot put the Ash’aris as “ahlul bid’ah” in the same way as we do the Shi’a, Khawarij, and the likes.

 

=====THE QUR’AN AND THE SUNNAH=====

Understanding the Message

It is my belief that the Qur’an is Allah’s Words, and that the authentic narrations from Rasulullah s.a.w. should be followed as it is Allah’s command that we should follow His Messenger’s words. How do we understand them, though?

I reject the hermeneutic method, which assumes that texts are tied to their historical context and may need to be reformed to adjust to modern needs. Hermeneutics is used in Christianity, for obvious reasons: Christians believe that the bible is written under divine inspiration. This means that the writer was inspired by God (according to their belief), but they write as a human being. Therefore the writings are to be analyzed like any other texts: cannot be free from the socio-historical context, therefore hermeneutics would fit them.

However, the Qur’an is a divine revelation. This is Allah’s Words, down to the letter. Allah, unlike a human, is not tied to socio-historical contexts. Hermeneutics would therefore strip the divine authority of the Qur’an and Sunnah, which are fundamental and paramount to the Islamic belief. This is not just wrong, it is also an insult to Allah!

It is my belief that whatever Allah and Rasulullah s.a.w. commands, we should follow to the letter. It does not make sense that we interpret in such a way that it (a) contradicts the apparent meaning of the text, or (b) defeats the general purpose of the texts. There is nothing wrong with literalism (this is a Christian problem, not Muslims’). What is wrong is when one does not understand the text holistically and with other sources.

It does not make sense that we infer meanings from any irrelevant sources. This is the mistake of people saying that, for example, Muslims can say merry christmas because “Islam teaches tolerance.” Or, as another example, “no need to keep the beard and avoid isbal” (putting aside the khilaf in fiqh), because “Islam should be taken moderately”. Yes Islam teaches “tolerance” and “moderation”, but of course those words are to be understood in Islamic terms. Not our own, which are imported from non-Islamic sources.

This is why the first thing we should look at would be text themselves. The Qur’an and Sunnah contains words, which in themselves have meanings. This is also why the Arabic language is essential because translations never do justice to any word. On many occasions, the Qur’an and Sunnah explain themselves in different parts, or also explain each other. We need to see them as one package. These are the primary tools to understand the Qur’an and Sunnah.

In their absence, we should resort to the understanding of the Salaafus Shaaleh. In the first place in this group are certainly the Sahabah. They understand the Qur’an and Sunnah from the Master himself, i.e. Rasulullah s.a.w.. Sometimes we know that some Sahabah rank higher than others in understanding, such as how we prefer Abdullah ibn Abbas r.a. than Abdullah ibn Umar r.a. when they differ in opinion. Then we go to the next generation, then the next. Yet, we know that it is not impossible that they make mistakes. The only human free from fault is Rasulullah s.a.w., so others may be very very competent but we must bear in mind that they are never perfect while we give our utmost regard and respect to them.

Only then, in absence of all the above, we move to the scholars that come after.

The Question on Madzhab of Fiqh

For many years of my life, I was educated with the basic fiqh of the Shafi’i madzhab. Indonesia, where I live, mostly (except for some cases) applies the Shafi’i madzhab. Therefore, by default I follow the teachings of the Shafi’i madzhab. Not necessarily following the rulings of Imam Shafi’i himself, but also rulings of medieval and contemporary scholars who follow the method of uhul al-fiqh developed by Imam Shafi’i.

However, I try my best to learn fiqh and ushul al-fiqh. So whenever I find another opinion which is stronger in its basis, I would try my best to leave the ruling I previously followed and prefer that stronger one. This is without any disrespect to the scholars who’s opinions I choose to not follow.

This is not to suggest that everyone should become a mujtahid, but it is to say that it is the duty of a Muslim to learn about her/his religion and act upon what has been learned. While nobody (except the Prophet s.a.w.) is free from flaw, but one must not speak beyond their knowledge. It is utterly stupid when some Muslims only learn Islam from their average school (1x a week, 90 minutes tops), then suddenly they criticize the great scholars because “as far as I know, that is not what Islam teaches”.

It is understood that although the Shari’ah is forever valid and not changeable, there are many parts of the Shari’ah that is not set in stone. Rather, there is room for masalahat (public necessity) consideration where only general guidelines are set so that mankind can adjust to their needs. This does not justify hermeneutics, or any interpretation that defeats the plain meaning of the text, except if there is another understanding that is very well justified also by the text.

 

The Question of Reduction and Innovation from the Sunnah

-Reducing the Sunnah-

In this sub-subsection this I speak of the ‘liberal muslims’. They claim to be Muslims but whatever they dislike from Islam they say “it’s a different time now, so this rule is irrelevant”. I have briefly mentioned the flaws of the hermeneutic method, but this part is about something else. Some people just have a thing using personal comfort and preferences to select what is right and wrong. Something that is unfamiliar to them is, by default, wrong, and no argument (despite correct) could deter them from it.

For example, the matter of jilbab for women. Many claim that “this is Arabic culture, and we are not Arabs. There is no need to adopt Arabic culture.” First of all, this is not true. When the ayat that commands women to use hijab was revealed, we find authentic hadeeth showing that immediately Muslim women find something to cover their heads. This means that women previously did not wear the jilbab. But second of all, its not about whether this is true or not. Very often I find that those who say “this is Arabic culture!” actually do not know! They just make a random assumption from thin air.

Rasulullah s.a.w. said that whoever dislikes the sunnah is not part of the ummah. Also, those who lie in his name will find a seat in hellfire.

I am strongly against this kind of mindset.

-Innovation of the Sunnah-

The question of bid’ah is a very difficult one. It is clear that Rasulullah s.a.w. mentions that all acts of innovation (for matters of worship) are prohibited. Therefore, for me, when someone tells me something about an act of worship, it is their burden to prove that it has authentic basis (so a dha’if hadeeth cannot be a good basis). Or at least, for starters, if there is a major scholar who says it (not that they are certainly correct, but they are more likely to have a basis or at least we know where to look).

All scholars agree that there are acts of bid’ah in worship that are prohibited, however they differ in the scope of ‘worship’ from which bid’ah may not be done. This is beyond my knowledge and understanding. I personally avoid acts of bid’ah as salafi scholars note (mawleed celebrations, ‘sayyidina’ in shalawat, etc) but I realize also that the debates are not as simple as it seems so these are different opinions that I will have to tolerate.

An important aspect to remember is that I cannot treat bid’ah in fiqh the same way as bid’ah in aqeedah. The “ahlul bid’ah” which must be avoided are those who are extremely deviant in their bid’ah in aqeedah, such as the Shi’ah and Khawarij. Bid’ah in fiqh is easier to tolerate in my eyes.

 

Culture and Nationalism

-Culture and the Sunnah-

Bearing in mind that culture is a reality in the society, and also that the Quraish worshiped statues also because of culture.

The maxim ‘al ‘adaatu muhakkamah‘ shows that customs can and must be respected, to the extent that it is not against the Shari’ah. It therefore makes no sense to say “I am a Muslim, but I am an Indonesian”, rather “I am an Indonesian, but I am a Muslim”. I hope the meaning of this is understood.

 

-Nationalism and Identity-

I cant help but wonder: what has a country given to us, that is not merely part of what the world as a whole has given us? What has a world given to us, that is not merely a fraction of what the galaxy has given us? What has a galaxy given to us, that is not merely a fraction of what The Creator of the galaxy has given us?

Who is most deserving of our gratitude?

Almost all nations in the world try to build unity and love for the nation by building nationalism. This is either a manifestation of real love of a people towards their identity as countrymen of that nation, or merely propaganda to support governance and social order.

Is this acceptable in Islam?

What I know is that Rasulullah s.a.w. says that a person dying fighting with ‘ash-habiyah’ will go to hell. Ash-habiyah is basically tribalism, culturalism, or identitygroup-ism. The qur’an also demands that we all stand united as Muslims, and that we should not be disunited.

Do we love our country more than our religion? Does the difference of nation interest make us dis-unite or even go in conflict with another Muslim state? When we see our Muslim brother/sister from Sudan, Saudi, Britain, Canada, or China, do you see more differences between you and them or more similarities?

I cannot say that nationalism is per se forbidden in Islam. However, I just see that it can potentially become something forbidden in Islam at a certain level.

One thing for sure, I am not a believer of “NKRI Harga Mati”. I do not condone rebellions, or anything. Its just that I believe that a State cannot be a purpose. A State is a tool from which to serve humanity under it. If the state system, at some point in time, proves incompatible with the society beliefs and/or needs, I see no reasons to keep such a system. Indonesia itself has changed systems a number of times. If NKRI seems to be the best option at the time, then fine. But to assume that it will forever be so is stretching things too far. After all, when I die, it is the Qur’an -not UUD 1945- that will be shafa’at for me!

=====MARRIAGE=====

Marriage, Family, and What it Means to Me

 A family is a safe zone. It is not a must that our work place is comfortable (although one that is would be very much preferable), but a family must be a comfort zone. A family member must be an eye soother for the other. Qurrata a’yun. However, I also believe that an Islamic family cannot only be a safe escape from life outside. There is so much more to a family than this.

Marriage, i.e. the start of a family, is an act of worship. Ibadat. The question is: what kind of ibadat is marriage? I am not speaking from a fiqh perspective at this point. Rather, I see it from an Islamic civilization perspective. After all, ‘religion’ in Arabic is Ad-Deen. Ad-Deen is a much more complex and holitic concept (way of life) compared to a mere ‘religion’ (i.e. theology). From the word Ad-Deen we can derive the word Madeenah (city) as well as Tamaddun (civilization). The Ummah is a global society of Muslims, and the smallest social unit is the family. This is where the strength of the Ummah is built from the bottom up, and it is more important than ever since we no longer have a strong leader from above.

Therefore, a Muslim family should aspire to strengthen the Ummah to the furthest extent within their abilities. It should be so much more than simply being a good career man/woman, working in their respective fieldss, with nothing Islamic except that they observe the daily rituals and have halal earnings. Not that this is wrong, but this is the lowest level possible for an Islamic family to be. I have greater dreams.

I believe an ideal family must always direct their conduct in a way that it directly contributes to the development of the Ummah of the Islamic civilization. This should be done in at least two levels. First, the husband and wife must make a good team in making their contributions in their respective areas or responsibilities. I myself, for example, in my duties as a lecturer and researcher, am trying to develop the knowledge of fiqh al jihad as well as reconstruction of thought (aqeedah) and educate people with it.

Second, it is important for a family to contribute a strong next generation whom will continue the struggle. A marriage should come with children, educated with a strong Islamic aqeedah and willpower to contribute to the Ummah.

 

Who Am I Looking For

Bearing in mind what I want for my marriage, I want wives who are strong and resilient in their aqeedah. To believe in Allah, observe the daily rituals and have at least some knowledge in the deen, is the very absolute minimum. But I want mine to also feel strongly about the deen at least as much as I do, making it the breath and blood of her actions. I do not require her to have the exact same understandings of Islam as I do but she must agree to most of it and have strong aqeedah of Al Walaa Wal Baraa and is not a follower of deviant sects (Shi’a, khawarij, etc).

I don’t want a person who merely does halal things, and “oh by the way Im a Muslim”, rather someone who is proud of being a Muslim and does things as and in the name of Islam. I want someone who proactively does things for the Ummah and exclusively so.

I would generally not prefer to have a housewife, but I am not having a wife who works just to explore things or enrich other people (in exchange for some salary). I want one who has passion to develop (not just obtaining) knowledge, especially in the Islamization of non-deeniyah sciences or the intersection between deeniyah and non-deeniyah ones. Is it possible to have a wife doing all this while also having enough time to educate my children? This is one to think later on. But at the very least, to have such a spirit is essential in educating children.

As the majority rules, I believe that the niqab is sunnah. But this is a sunnah that I want my wife to practice since before marriage. Some families are difficult, and I would understand this. So I would accept a compromise for her to only start wearing it after the akaad.

It is my requirement also that my wife would not rule out the possibility of ta’adud. To begin with, it is my understanding that there is absolutely no problem for ta’adud (even marriage in general) for sake of lust, as long as the marriage is done to avoid zina due to taqwa, and that all rights and obligations are fulfilled. But I see that there are many strategic purposes of marriage and ta’adud, other than a typical Disney-type celebration of true love.

===== FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS=====

  1. Question 1: Do Your Support ISIS?

Answer: Mas Rangga is joking. No I do not support ISIS. I believe that their aqeedah is that of the khawarij and I do not condone them.

  1. Question 2: Are You Hizbut Tahrir Indonesia? Or do you agree with them?

Answer: I am not a member of HTI, but I support a lot of things they believe. For example, that there are 5 times faraaidh shalats in a day according to them and I agree that, as any Muslims should.

As for khilafah and Islamic Shari’ah? I believe that a type of governance is something subject to ijtihad (with so much terms and conditions). As for the Islamic Shari’ah, only a kafir would say that there is any better system (this is mentioned in the Qur’an).

However, to apply the Shari’ah is not simple and there are steps, requirements, and priorities.

  1. Question 3: What do you think about the Shi’a and Ahmadiyah?

Answer: Before anything else, I must clarify first that in Islam there is no such thing as “my religion is personal business, so it is up to me”. Islam is a deen revealed by Allah, and it is He who determines its boundaries of what is in and out of that religion. It is not by hatred or imagination that we make these boundaries, but by what is revealed in the Qur’an and Sunnah.

Also, there is a difference between takfeer mu’ayyin and takfeer mutlaq which is very complex. Essentially, there is no problem to say that Christianity is a kaafir belief and that a Christian is a kaafir, because they are obviously non-Muslims (kafir means non-Muslim) according to the Qur’an in blanket takfeer.

However, it is possible that there is a group of people calling themselves Muslims but they believe in such a way that makes them out of the fold of Islam like a person who claims to be a vegetarian but eats beef. The Shi’ah and Ahmadiyah are examples. Their aqeedah is that of riddah (apostates) therefore are kaafirs, but the persons –while they still claim to be Muslims—are by default Muslims until proven otherwise. This ‘proven otherwise’ is takfeer mu’ayyin, which applies individually, can only be done by the most knowledgeable people, and after a long procedure of investigation.

Although there are cases where some sub-sects of the Shi’ah are deviant but not kaafirs, such as the Zaidiyah.

  1. Question 4: What Do you think of “Islam Nusantara”?

Answer: “Islam Nusantara” is an idea of Indonesian-version of Islam that some are very anxious to promote. Here is a loose translation of the definition of Islam Nusantara by the Ministry of Religion:

Islam Nusantara is a model of Islamic teaching which suits a plural nation. Islam Nusantara is an Islamic teaching that puts emphasis on principles of moderation (wasatiyah), inclusive, tolerant (mutual respect), not claiming that only one’s own religion is correct, “Unity in Diversity”, based on the 1945 Constitution and Pancasila ideology…”

In general, I reject the idea of “Islam Nusantara”. I reject the idea of Islam Nusantara as an idea that constructs a separate identity of Islam in the world, because Islam should be united. This strengthens the ‘I am a Muslim, but…” as explained before.

However, I must further comment on the definition

  1. “…model of Islamic teaching which suits a plural nation.” And “…inclusive…” dan “…unity in diversity…”

Does this imply that Islam generally does not suit a plural society, or that only Islam Nusantara suits a plural society?

IF the answer is yes, then this is wrong. The message of Rasulullah s.a.w. is rahmah for all the worlds (Surah Anbiya ayat 107). After the death of Rasulullah s.a.w., Islam spread really fast to Persia, Sham, South Asia, China, and all that before the first century of Rasulullah’s death. Today, 5-10 thousands of people enter Islam in the UK per year.

IF the answer is no, then why claim this as a characteristic of Islam Nusantara?

Not to mention, I think this is hypocrisy. I do not find that this Islam Nusantara proponents are tolerant to plurality at all. For example, they easily reject the alleged ‘Arab culture’ (e.g. the jilbaab and gamees). Did they not know that we have quite a number of Arab descents, or people who traditionally wear these clothes? See Pangeran Diponegoro and Tuanku Imam Bonjol (they are our national heroes who used to fight in our wars against our colonizers). Check their pics, they wear gamises.

Did they not make an anti-salafi parade as well? Such hypocrites!

  1. “…emphasis on principles of moderation (wasatiyah)

First of all, is wasatiyah a principle only known to Islam Nusantara? Because it is not. Rasulullah s.a.w. in some hadeeth prohibit us to be excessive in worship, and in other hadeeth mention that Islam is a religion of the middle way (moderation). Since it is not, why is wasatiyah claimed to be a characteristic of Islam Nusantara?

Second of all is the most important issue. What is meant by ‘moderate’?

If moderate is understood as not making additions or reductions to the sunnah, then it is correct. If it is understood as to rejecting any part of the sunnah because ‘that’s Arab culture’ then no it is not correct.

 

  1. “…tolerant…”

This also depends on what it means.

If it means: being fair and kind to kafirs, not insulting their deities, not harming them, not forcing Islam to them, then this is correct. These are clear instructions from the Qur’an and Sunnah.

But if ‘tolerant’ means choosing kafirs as public leaders, assisting (or even joining) them in committing shirk, imitating their acts of worship and customs, then this is clearly wrong.

 

  1. “…not claiming that only one’s own religion is correct,…”

This is a statement that does not befit any Muslim. This statement, if said with knowledge, can make a person become an apostate.

This is a clear and direct breach of Surah Al Imran ayats 19 and 85.

Do not understand Surah Al Baqarah ayat 62 incorrectly. It does say that Christians, Jews, and Sabians, can go to heaven too. However, there are a few notes.

First, as explained by Abdullah ibn ‘Abbas as cited in Tafseer ibn Katheer, this refers to those who came before the message of Rasulullah s.a.w.

Second, not to mention that there are requirements for the Jews and Christians and Sabians in the above point to enter heaven. They must believe in Allah without associating partners to Him, making shalat, do good, and believe in judgment day. Don’t forget this one!

Third, see Surah Al Maidah ayat 82-84 to see what kind of Christian that could enter heaven at (and after) the time of Rasulullah s.a.w.

 

  1. “…based on the 1945 Constitution and Pancasila ideology …”

This also depends on what it means.

If it means literally ‘..Islamic teachings.. based on the 1945 constitution..” then this is also literally kufr. What freaky kind of person would replace the Qur’an and Sunnah with a constitution?

Surah An Nisa ayat 59 basically shows how the role of people in making laws is only when not contradictory to the Qur’an and Sunnah. And various ayats also mention how only Allah can make laws, so rulings by men may only be at least based on the understanding of the Qur’an and Sunnah.

What happens if we take a law other than from what Allah has revealed? It makes you either kafir (Surah Al Maidah ayat 44), dzalim (Surah Al Maidah ayat 45), or fasiq (Surah Al Maidah ayat 47). Make your choice.

But of course that’s not what it means. Hopefully not!

Rather, it might mean that the Constitution and Pancasila is a way of interpreting the Qur’an and Sunnah? If that is so, then, it will depend on every single article in the constitution.

 

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